Storm clouds hovered all around the Rock Cliff area at the Jordanelle Reservoir on Saturday morning, but out on the water, the sun was shining and the temperatures were ideal for the second-annual Paddle/Pedal/Paddle race.
After an hour delay to wait for some unsavory conditions to pass through, the first wave of standup paddleboarders took to the water around 9 a.m., paddling through calm waters and a slight breeze.
Two hours, 51 minutes and 15 seconds later, Park City firefighter Leroy Fernandez crossed the finish line, completing the second and final paddleboard leg of the race for his three-person team with fellow firefighters Eric Hockridge and Tom Fabian and setting a new course record in the process.
The Paddle/Pedal/Paddle event features a five-mile paddleboard segment, followed by a 10-mile mountain bike ride through a trail so hilly the elevation chart looks like a heart-rate monitor, ending with a second five-mile paddle. This year's race featured four teams, comprised of two or three competitors each.
"I think it went really well," race founder Trent Hickman said. "I was excited to see more team participation out here this year. We had the fire department come out with a team and that was really cool. We had an Olympic gold medalist here that I was fortunate enough to have on my team, Amy LePeilbet [a center back for the Chicago Red Stars soccer team and member of the U.S.
Hickman said he was thankful for the fact that the bad weather stayed away until the race was over.
"We seem to continue to fly under this little magic bubble for weather," he said, referring to the great weather during the two PC SUP Cup races earlier this summer. "It's cloudy everywhere around us and in town it's probably raining, but we're out here in the sunshine."
Fernandez said he and his teammates were questioning whether the race would be held at all. In the end, though, it worked out perfectly for the firefighters.
"We were on shift this morning," he said. "We got off at 7 a.m. and the race was supposed to start at 8, but it got delayed due to weather. When we got here, we just took off. It was fun. The weather held out for us and it was actually pretty good."
Fernandez, who paddled the final leg of the race for his team, said he had to deal with some wind towards the end of his run.
LePeilbet, who paddled the opening leg for her team, said she had no such problems.
"We saw that it would possibly rain or lightning, so we didn't know what we were going to get when we got up here," she said. "But it turned out to be a beautiful day. I got to run the first leg, so it was nice and calm with no wind."
Hickman said the month-long rain in the Park City area hadn't affected the mountain bike trail conditions too much.
"Some people said they were spinning out their tires on the uphills," he said. "The trail is tough, always, even in great conditions. But if you would kind of pick your line where there were some extra rocks or some weed growth, I thought it was pretty nice."
Overall, participants said they couldn't wait for next year's event, which Hickman hopes will draw some individual competitors who will do all three legs of the race themselves. (Hickman set the individual course record last year, finishing in three hours and 19 minutes.)
"I would love to come out next year and do it again," LePeilbet said. "It's a good time of the year I'm in town in the fall usually. If I'm here, I'll be out here racing."
Hickman added that next year might feature two Paddle/Pedal/Paddles.
"One in the spring, say in June, and one in September," he said. "That way, we can all have a bar to gauge ourselves with. So if you come out in June and your time was four hours, maybe in September you can shoot for three hours, 59 minutes and 30 seconds."